Punjab launches deradicalisation programme

LAHORE - A nine moth de-radicalisation programme has been launched in Punjab to bring the militants of banned TTP and other organisations into mainstream life, The Nation has learnt.
Sources in Punjab Apex Committee told this correspondent on Sunday that the de-radicalisation programme, on the pattern of an earlier programme run in Swat, has been started by involving 350 militants in the first phase in an effort to bring them back to normal life.
They said it has been launched with the assistance of psychologists, psychiatrists and other experts of military services and their intelligence agencies who ran the Swat de-radicalisation programme, following the military operation to clear the area of hardcore TTP militants. They said the major chunk of the 350 militants belongs to southern Punjab, followed by those from northern Punjab and central Punjab areas.
Punjab Home Minister Colonel (r) Shuja Khanzada, when contacted, informed: In pursuance of National Action Plan (NAP) goals, we are adopting several measures of which the de-radicalisation is the most important step. He informed that Punjab Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) with the assistance of Provincial Strategic Council and Board, and experts of Swat de-radicalisation programme are executing this plan.
The minister said: We have taken the 4th scheduler militants in this programme for a nine-month period and the course includes technical education, motivation and imparting of real teachings of Islam.
There are as many as 1132 extremists placed under 4th Schedule who have been selected for the programme. Of them 350 militants have been put in the first phase and include hardcore operatives of the banned TTP and aiders, abettors and other facilitators of the militants. Hardcore militants do not mean only those extremists who are involved in high crimes, he said. He informed that all these 1132 detainees have been thoroughly screened out by the intelligence agencies and those not taken in the first phase, will be involved in similar exercise in second and third phases.
When asked about type of the extremists put under the de-radicalisation programme other than hardcore militants, Shuja said that he was directly connected with the candidates of this programme who were either captured by the security forces or surrendered to authorities for becoming part of normal life, while some other categories of extremists on Swat pattern were also being pursued by the departments concerned.
The Swat de-radicalisation programme was launched by the Pakistan Army in 2009 for the rehabilitation of militant detainees, excluding screened out hardcore militants actively involved in major terrorism incidents, after they were arrested during the military operation. The de-radicalisation programme included three steps namely ‘Sabawoon’, focusing on juveniles; ‘Mishal’, working on adult detainees; and ‘Sparlay’, which included working with family members of detained militants.
Four modules incorporating a psycho-social educational curriculum were designed, which provided formal education to juveniles along with psychological counselling and family therapy culminating in vocational training. The rehabilitation programmes aim to reform terrorists in custody and are a tool that supports broader counterterrorism and counter-radicalisation strategies.
These programmes focus on influencing ideological beliefs and behavioural modification, and are one of the various ways for mitigating the potential future threat of detained terrorists. Such programmes are also have been run by Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan US, UK and some other countries.

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